Some Port Phillip orphans
Here are details of some of the orphans who arrived or settled in Victoria, from my family reconstitution work. They may be of interest to anyone going to the commemoration in Burgoyne Reserve, Williamstown on 19th November 2017. My best wishes to all taking part.
I hear there are moves afoot to set up an Outreach programme. That is brilliant news. Here’s to everyone looking forward…to helping others…in memory of the Port Phillip orphan ‘girls’.
There is lots of information on the www.irishfaminememorial.org database about the Port Phillip orphans. It is well worth your ‘mining all within’. Maybe someone can tell me where all the information is from?
From my map showing the location of the orphans in Victoria, c. 1861 (from the birth/baptism dates of their children) one cannot help noticing how the orphans and their family were attracted to the gold fields. And yet they arrived in Port Phillip before the discovery of gold. Colonial authorities moved some orphans away from Melbourne, to Geelong, and to the Western Districts via steamer, to Portland. So not every orphan went to the diggings, though undoubtedly many of them did, even from Portland. See if you can identify which ones did not, from the reconstitution forms below.
[I recently discovered that you can no longer make these images larger using an ipad. Pinching the image doesn’t work. It must be the template I’m using. Bummer. I wonder how I might remedy this.]
“The first glance at the great and glorious gold-field of Ballarat we got was the celebrated Canadian Gully, then radiant with the still fresh fame of the enormous 137 lb. nugget”, (William Kelly, Life in Victoria 1853…1858, , Historical Reprint Series, Kilmore, 1977, p.178.)
Mary and Jane Byng from Enniskillen per Diadem
Enniskillen workhouse sent a comparatively large number of orphans to Australia by the Earl Grey scheme. 16 year old Mary Bing came into the workhouse 28 November 1848 as part of a large family group comprising 50 year old George Bing from Enniskillen Asylum, (George left the workhouse 5 September 1849), 48 year old Mary Anne, young Mary’s sister Jane, who was 14, and siblings William (11), George (10) and Catherine (5). Mary and Jane left the workhouse 3 October 1849 on the way to Plymouth to join the Diadem. (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, BG14/G/4 [4611 and 4612]).
Both sisters went with their husbands to the Victorian gold diggings, and for a time at least settled near to one another, in Inglewood. Three of Mary’s children died at a young age. Jane lost two children when they were less than two years old, and her son Joshua when he was sixteen. My thanks to Nancy Pilat and Michaela Rosenberg for the original information. I must have had access to vital statistics to fill in some of the dates.
Mary Doherty from Carrick-on-Suir per Eliza Caroline
Here is what is on the www.irishfaminememorial.org database about Mary. Mary’s details, including the lovely photograph, originally came from Margaret Murray who was a teacher at East Doncaster High School. Margaret told me that William, Mary’s first child by Ray Salt took the surname Ranson. Some of the Eliza Caroline orphans would do well for themselves.
- Surname : Doherty
- First Name : Mary
- Age on arrival : 16
- Native Place : Carrick on Suir, Tipperary
- Parents : Not recorded
- Religion : Roman Catholic
- Ship name : Eliza Caroline (Melbourne 1850
- Workhouse : Tipperary, Carrick-on-Suir
- Other : shipping: nursemaid, reads; Empl. Mrs Rachael Ackerman, Corio St., Geelong West, ₤10, 6 months; married 1) Ray Salt at St Mary’s Geelong, 8 Jan 1852, 1 child; married 2) Samuel S Ranson, Ararat, 19 Jul 1859; 6 children; husband a farmer on the Wimmera at Elmhurst. He left his estate to two sons after bequests totalling ₤500 to his other four children; Mary died 21 Dec 1913.
I wonder when and where this photograph of Mary was taken. She looks quite young, does she not?
Let me see if I can find some more of my family reconstitutions for the Eliza Caroline. Note that these completed family reconstitutions favour those in long-term stable relationships.
Margaret Ryan from Nenagh per Eliza Caroline
Margaret married David Murray, a Scot, whose religion was different from her own. They had twelve children together, at least two of whom lived a long life. From what my informant Kevin Murray told me, David rose from being a farm labourer to a farm owner. Margaret might even have witnessed the women rioting in Nenagh workhouse in 1849. In Nenagh, women were the leading characters in the protest over food and entitlements, ‘dashing saucepans, tins and pints of stirabout to the ground and smashing windows’. Margaret and David are both buried in Balmoral in the Western District of Victoria.
Ann Maroney from Ballyna, Tipperary per Eliza Caroline
Ann married within nine months of arriving in Port Phillip. Her husband also had a different religion from hers. Together they had twelve children, the boys raised as Anglican, the girls as Roman Catholic. Ann’s estate was valued at £801 when she died. She was a widow for twelve years, and apparently a good farm manager. Both Ann(e) and her husband are buried at Lake Rowan. I wonder how she got to Benalla so quickly. It would appear she and her husband did not go looking for gold. Considering where she lived, she must surely have been aware of Ned Kelly’s mob and their doings. (Incidentally, there’s some very good historical fiction on the subject. I’m thinking of Jean Bedford’s “Sister Kate”, Penguin, 1982, Peter Carey’s “True History of the Kelly Gang”, UQP, 2000 and Robert Drewe’s “Our Sunshine”, Macmillan, 1991. Ian Jones’s, Ned Kelly. A Short Life, Thomas Lothian, Port Melbourne, 1995, will provide a good historical context).
My thanks to Brenda Cooke for the original information for Barefoot vol. 1. She also supplied the names of the children’s spouses.
Ann Cathcart from Sligo per Eliza Caroline
Ann married William Newman, a Londoner, within three years of her arrival in Port Phillip. They had fourteen children, including triplets Albert, Edward and James, one of whom appears to have died at childbirth and another, James, a few months later. That made four of their children dying in infancy. They tried their hand on the goldfields, without much success but William had a trade to fall back on: he was a plasterer. Both are buried in Melbourne General Cemetery.
Bridget Watt or Watson from Milltown, Kilkenny per New Liverpool
Bridget, originally from Kilkenny, was one of those who went to Portland. Notice she lost her first four children at childbirth. I wonder if Bridget’s famine experience affected her child-bearing capabilities. Janet Mc Calman in her Sex and Suffering (Melbourne U.P., 1998) describes the effects of malnutrition on young Irish women giving birth at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Malnutrition and poverty had led to underdeveloped and deformed pelvises. Once the women had a better diet, rest and sunshine in Australia, their babies grew larger in the womb, making for a difficult birth. The procedures involved, including craniotomy, were gruesome.
Most of Bridget’s twelve children were dead before they reached the age of 21. Only two survived beyond 60. According to Lorraine Thomas, Bridget’s descendant, all of Bridget’s children were born in Portland. After her husband died in 1873 she remarried, this time to John McPhee. She is buried in Footscray.
Bridget Flood from Cappoquin, Waterford per Eliza Caroline
My thanks to Claire Palmer for the photograph of young Bridget Flood. Bridget was 16 when she joined the Eliza Caroline. She was first employed by a reporter from the Melbourne Morning Herald, Edward Flood of Spring Street. I wonder was he related. 11 July 1853 she married a widower Joseph Plummer in St Peter’s Anglican Church. She had six children, four of whom survived to adulthood. She died in 1884 aged 52 and is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery.
Margaret Britt from Carrick on Suir, Waterford per Eliza Caroline
Margaret married a Welshman Robert Parry, only two months after her arrival. They had seven children, two girls and five boys, born at various places, Kangaroo Ground, Eltham, Cale, and when Robert was a farmer at Healesville. Margaret died in 1913 when she was 80 and is buried in Coburg, East Brunswick.
Catherine Rooney from Sligo per Eliza Caroline.
Catherine was sixteen when she went on board the Eliza Caroline. After 25 days in the immigrant depot she was employed, for three months, at a rate of £7 per annum, by John Green of Little Bourke Street. She married in 1852 John Dowling a farmer from Colac with whom she had nine children. She died in 1904.
Bridget Miniter from Kilrush per Pemberton
Unfortunately I don’t have much on the orphans who came from Kilrush. There is something about Bridget Miniter at the back of my mind but it escapes me at the moment. Was it something a descendant had told me? Bridget married a lad from Devon who was both a mason and bricklayer. I suspect some of those such as Bridget, who ended up in the Western Districts of Victoria went first by steamer to Portland and later travelled north from there. Bridget and James had eight children, four boys and four girls, but three of the boys died in infancy or childhood. She herself lived until she was 77 or 78. She is buried in the Roman Catholic section of Horsham cemetery.
Catherine Magee/McGee per Earl Grey
Just one more to finish. It is a reminder that many of the orphans did not remain near the port of their arrival. Kerry Cory told me about Catherine Magee/McGee recently, “Catherine and Charles went to the Victoria Goldfields and finally settled in Echucha Victoria with the remaining 7 of her 12 children, but unfortunately her 11th child died while working at the saw mill with his father. I have visited the graves at Echuca and the site of where they may have lived on the Murray river at the old saw mill on the Golburn rd. They are all buried together in an unmarked grave. When I get more information together the historical society are going to assist me in placing a marker and adding Catherine to their history tour because of her Earl Grey past“.
I eventually found what I had for Catherine; my original informant was Norma Sims of West Brunswick.
The following is from the entry in Barefoot vol. 2, p. 149. I’d found Catherine in the Antrim Workhouse Indoor Registers, held in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) at BG 1/GA/1 (3398 and 4317). In the first entry, she was described as a ‘dirty’ single 16 year old Roman Catholic female residing in Crumlin who entered the workhouse 30 September 1847, and left six months later, 27 March 1848. The second entry was the same, except that she was now described as a 21 year old servant who entered 6 April 1848 and left two months later, 25 May 1848. She was on her way to Plymouth to join the Earl Grey.
Catherine ‘married Charles Brown 13 July 1849 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian church, in Sydney, the Reverend John McGarvie officiating. The couple had twelve children, seven of whom survived infancy. Charles was a mariner but in 1854-5 became a goldminer in Avoca, Maryborough, Adelaide Lead, and Elphinstone, Victoria. The family moved to Echuca c. 1869 where Charles was a sawyer and carpenter. Catherine died 12 April 1906, exactly one year after her husband’. That looks as if it should be ‘eleven years’.
I’m sure Catherine would be pleased at being part of the history tour at Echuca.
My best wishes for the commemoration at Burgoyne Reserve, Williamstown commencing 3 p.m. on the 19th November. Here’s to everyone looking forward…to helping those in need…in memory of the Irish orphan ‘girls’.
An incomplete key to the contents of this blog is at http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE
And just a reminder, after the comments on each blogpost there is a search box to help you navigate my blog.
There is plenty more from the Public Record Office Victoria at http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Irish_Famine_Orphan_Immigration
Skibbereen and beyond (cont.)
The poster above contains essential information about the November commemorative ‘Gathering’ in Williamstown this year. Wouldn’t it be good to see an Outreach programme associated with this Standing Rock in memory of the young Irish Famine women who arrived in Port Phillip? Organisers and descendants could choose the kind of outreach they would like. What do you think? I’m sure Dr Noone would encourage any proposal.
To return to some of the issues raised in my last post. Most of us will agree that the Earl Grey orphans had psychological baggage when they came to Australia. Some of them from places such as Skibbereen or Dingle or Kilrush may have been damaged more than others, making it hard for them to cope with the troubles they met in their new home.
If I may quote from Dr Kildea’s poignant oration, ‘Only Nineteen ‘ delivered at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney at the end of August 2017,
“To be uprooted from your home country by force of circumstance, whether it be persecution or the prospect of starvation, and transported to a strange and foreign land can be a deeply traumatic experience. The fact that the refugee is thereby enabled to survive is unarguably a good thing. But that obvious benefit does not eliminate the emotional damage which the forced displacement causes”.
I encourage you to read Jeff’s speech if you haven’t already done so. https://tintean.org.au/2017/09/06/only-nineteen/
Reading his oration again I’m aware how much I’m indebted to him in these two blogposts on “Skibbereen and beyond”.
But let me play the devil’s advocate. What counter arguments or qualifications might be made to the claim that orphans from the Skibbereen area were especially vulnerable? Was Skibbereen so exceptional? Some qualifications to the claim have appeared already viz. there are places other than Skibbereen just as badly affected by the Famine. Dingle and Clare Abbey were mentioned in the previous post, for example. Note too the cover picture of the last post which features Captain Arthur Kennedy’s young daughter distributing clothing to children at Kilrush.
Kilrush, in County Clare, was notorious for the number of evictions that drove people from their homes. Captain Kennedy, the Poor Law Inspector in Kilrush Poor Law Union, reported in July 1848,
“These helpless creatures are not only unhoused, but often driven off the land, no one remaining on the lands being allowed to lodge or harbour them. Or they, perhaps linger about the spot, and frame some temporary shelter out of the materials of their old homes against a broken wall, or behind a ditch or fence, or in a bog-hole (scalps as they are called), places totally unfit for human habitations, or they crowd into some of the few neighbouring cabins still left standing, when called to do so, as lodgers, where such numbers congregate that disease, together with the privations of other kinds which they endure, before long carry them off. As soon as one horde of houseless and all but naked paupers are dead, or provided for in the workhouse, another wholescale eviction doubles the number, who in their turn pass through the same ordeal of wandering from house to house, or burrowing in bogs or behind ditches, till broken down by privation and exposure to the elements, they seek the workhouse, or die by the roadside”.
Or to take a different tack, there were another eighteen or so orphans from Skibbereen on board the Eliza Caroline and another eighty-five (85) on board the Elgin to South Australia about whom we know little or nothing. We just do not know how they fared in Australia. And therefore surely cannot be certain their Famine experience predisposed them to disaster in Australia.
Remember too that the orphans did not board ship carrying disease or wearing lice infected rags. They had an outfit, a wooden box, a Bible, and would be well fed during their voyage to Australia.
My thanks to Síle Ní Muirchú (O’Driscoll) whose spiritual home is the beautiful Gougane Barra in West Cork. Síle provided the following excerpts from the Dunmanway Board of Guardian Minute Books. Dunmanway is just up the road from Skibbereen. Fifteen orphans from Dunmanway were also on board the Eliza Caroline.
“1st December 1849 “The Reports of the Master and other Officers were read, and orders made thereon, as follows”:
“The matron reported that 350 yards of gingham was required for girls bibs”
“The clerk was directed to advertise for contractors to supply gingham. Contracts to be made on the 8th inst.
8th December 1849
“Letter from the Commissioners of 6th Inst No. 76770 containing instructions respecting Female emigrants – directions were given to the union officers to carry out the instructions of the Commissioners.
Special Business “Tender for supply of gingham deferred for consideration”.
“The clerk was directed to advertise for persons willing to convey to Cork 15 female emigrants with their boxes etc? – tender to be considered on the 15th inst”.
15th December 1849
Special Business “Tenders for conveying female emigrants to Cork deferred for a few days”.
“The tender of Mr Ralph Phipps? To paint boxes for the female emigrants at 5/2d each was accepted”.
22nd December 1849
“Debit Workhouse Invoice Account, and Credit Treasure, with the several sums as above”.
“4. Emigration Account”.
Messr Skilling? And Co Books £1 s3 d9
Mr. ? for Bonnets 1 0 0
Mr Standley for Emigrants shoes 1 5 0
Mr Winder? For conveyance to Plymouth 3? 13 10 0
Mr ?? Fares to Cork 1 15 0
“The Reports of the Master and other Officers were read, and orders made thereon, as follows”:
“That all? The clothing and requirements/requisites? Required for the outfit of the Female emigrants are now complete”.
Bibles, bonnets, boxes, shoes, and dressed in gingham, the Dunmanway orphans were privileged indeed, and cut a fine bib as they made their way to Cork en route to Plymouth and thence Port Phillip.
I doubt that today many Syrian children seeking refuge in Lebanon or Jordan, or in Canada or Germany are receiving professional counselling. Nor are the Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. How far have we failed to come? Such psychiatric help did not exist for our Famine orphans either. Yet maybe 235 Earl Grey orphans living close to one another on board the recently built, well appointed but small, Eliza Caroline, fostered memories of home. Living cheek by jowl for a ninety day voyage provided plenty of opportunity to share and talk about past experiences, and about anxieties, and hopes, and dreams. Good medicine in itself, for some at least, was it not?
There are different and subtle hues to our picture of ‘Skibbereen and beyond’, are there not?
Australian circumstances and events
What tipped a vulnerable orphan into the abyss? What things made her life so difficult in Australia? Maybe the life cycle of an ‘at risk’ orphan became a disaster because of events that happened in Australia. How many of them fall into this category? It is hard to know. We may never know. My gut reaction would be, about ten percent (10%) of the whole. But if we include any Earl Grey orphan who went into an institution, even once, to a Benevolent Asylum, a Lying-in hospital, a women’s prison, a Mental Asylum, or whose children went to an Industrial school, I’d put the figure higher. We just do not know the history of all the orphans. Which is why the work of people such as Perry Mc Intyre, Karen Semken, Cheryl Mongan, Richard Reid, and committed family historians is so important to our understanding of this issue.
Let me briefly explore, in general terms, the kind of thing that had an adverse effect on an orphan’s life. Here’s an incomplete list just off the top of my head. I hope you will identify others. Let me know your thoughts.
- the vulnerability of a lonely female immigrant who lacked a support network from ‘home’
- sexual and domestic abuse
- criminal misdemeanours
- mental illness, and other maladies
- poverty and hardship
- desertion, illness and death of her husband
Sexual and domestic abuse
I’ll just look at a couple of things from the list above. Under sexual and domestic abuse let’s include any orphan, vulnerable because of her servitude, who was a target for an employer abusing his or her power as master in the master-servant relationship. There will be more than the ones that came to court. Here are a few that were reported in the Melbourne press, the Argus.
Sarah Higg/Head ( the Melbourne Daily News named her as Sarah Head) a 14 year-old from Limerick per Pemberton took her employers to court in November 1849. Richard Clarke a printer in the Gazette office in Melbourne abused her with ‘the most insulting language’, calling her a ‘poor-house brat’. His wife had grabbed her by the neck and thrown her out the door. See Argus, 13 Nov. 1849 p.2 col 6 http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/504313
Catherine Mackie per New Liverpool was also a 14 year-old but from from Wicklow. The Argus 3 Nov 1849 reported as follows,
tragically, in April 1850, Alice Ball a 16 year-old from Enniskillen per Diadem committed suicide by throwing herself into the River Yarra in Melbourne. “Even though reins were thrown to her from the bank of the river, she would not, she refused to lay hold of them”. She was pregnant by her married master. See the Argus, 26 April, 29 April and 1 May 1850. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/4773296
My final example, one that i cannot forget, is Mary Coghlan from Skibbereen per Eliza Caroline. You can read about some of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband via this link http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/6455284?zoomLevel=1
“He pulled me out of bed and shoved me one way and then another. I was stupid and taken in labor after he beat me, and I can’t tell half what he did to me… The child was born dead. Prisoner struck me with his hand and his foot. He struck me all over. He struck me with the point of his foot. I was tumbling on the floor. My daughter was in the house when he beat me. He ill-used me from the Saturday till the Friday, when the child was born. Sometimes he’d up and give me a shove or a slap”.
The sad thing is, a husband’s so-called “rights” to discipline and punish his wife and children was enshrined in law, a legal position which was underpinned by the ideology of most churches of the time. The head of a household, that is, the male, had a duty to administer ‘moderate’ correction to his wife and children to keep them on the straight and narrow. I wonder do we really live in more enlightened times. There are still plenty of troglodytes about.
In the 1990s I did some research on Irish women in Mental asylums for my Irish Women in Colonial Australia. I am glad to say some excellent work has appeared since then, particularly by the former Professor of Irish studies at the University of Melbourne, Professor Elizabeth Malcolm. Have a look for Elizabeth Malcolm, “Mental Health and Migration: The case of the Irish, 1850s-1990s”, in Migration, Ethnicity and Mental Health…, ed. A. McCarthy & C. Coleborne, Routledge, 2012, and her chapter on Yarra Bend Asylum, “Irish Immigrants in a Colonial Asylum during the Australian Gold Rushes, 1848-69”, in Asylums, Mental Health Care and the Irish:1800-2010, ed. Pauline M. Prior, Irish Academic Press, 2012, 2017. One can gain access to substantial portions of these works by searching via Google books.
Professor Malcolm identifies two orphans in her chapter on case histories in Yarra Bend, Bridget Ferry from Dunfanaghy in Donegal per Lady Kennaway, and Elizabeth Armstrong from Enniskillen per Diadem. One was described as a ‘congenital idiot’ and the other as suffering from ‘paralysis’ and ‘dementia’. But both were released ‘cured’ after only a few months stay in the institution. Professor Malcolm suggests they may have used the asylum for their own ends, “as a means of escaping from intolerable living conditions”.
There was no shortage of Irish women in Australian mental hospitals. Dr Malcolm lists the reasons for their being there; post natal depression, grief at the death of children, alcoholism, head injuries and poor physical health, and some evidence of ‘gold fever’ i.e. overwhelming disappointment at not finding gold on the Victorian gold fields.
And if I may add, from my own research notes, the reasons given by the medical authorities of the day as the ‘supposed cause’ of an inmate’s illness. They help identify some of the ‘difficulties’ an ‘at risk’ orphan may have faced. These are taken from mental hospital records in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales;
“her mind is affected by her child burning to death”,
“feeble and much emaciated”,
“drunkenness and ill usage of her husband”,
“death of her husband and destitute circumstances”,
“states she has been living in a solitary hut, her husband having been up the country and that continued fear was the cause of her illness”,
“form of mental disorder, nostalgia. Supposed cause, grief at leaving her country and ardent desire to return to it”,
“she continually reads her Prayer Book…becomes excited over religious subjects stating she has renounced her husband, that she considers sexual intercourse a crime and that she would sooner die than submit”,
“supposed cause of her melancholia, ‘regret at leaving home coupled with her recent desolate condition'”,
“she is a native of Ireland and lived by selling fruits…she has been long parted from her husband on account of his brutal usage”,
“the mother states that during her pregnancy with this child she received the most cruel usage from her husband”.
No matter how heavy the psychological baggage the orphans brought with them from a Famine ravaged Ireland, sometimes the struggle they had in their new home in Australia tipped them over the edge, and determined the downward course their lives.
Elsewhere in my blog I’ve drawn readers’ attention to the fact that because so many orphans married older men, in their old age they were more likely to spend their last days in an institution such as a Benevolent Asylum. Or as Dr Malcolm puts it, ‘elderly working class widows were especially vulnerable to psychiatric institutionalisation’. They coped as best they could, whatever way they could.
Unfortunately records of the names of those in the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum have not survived. But they have done so elsewhere. One needs to be aware of the name of the ship and date of arrival to detect an Earl Grey orphan. Here are a few from the ‘Register of Personal details relating to persons admitted to Dunwich Benevolent Asylum’.(Queensland State Archives Ben 2/4). Dunwich is on Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay.
In alphabetic order,
Mary Clark aged 69 admitted January 19th 1897. Born in Belfast, daughter of Charles Murray and Mary Donnelly…came to Australia 49 years ago by ship Roman Emperor, landed at Adelaide S.A. Goodness how far had she travelled.
Eliza Dwyer aged 75 admitted May 4th 1898. Born in Belfast, daughter of John Frazer and Margaret Gallagher…came to Australia 50 years ago landed Moreton Bay. Eliza was one of the original Belfast girls who arrived by the Earl Grey.
Ellen Agnes Hickson aged 61 admitted Oct. 29 1895 . Born Clare Ireland, daughter of John Leyden and Mary Cronin…came to Australia 1850 landed in Sydney…last two years in Asylum Goodna. Ellen Leydon from Ennistymon in County Clare arrived by the Thomas Arbuthnot.
Eliza Scholes aged 52 admitted October 10th 1889. Born Belfast, daughter of Anthony Rodgers and Jane Harver…came to Brisbane ’48 & have been in Queensland ever since. Eliza was another of the original Belfast girls who arrived by the Earl Grey.
It would be a major research project searching for, and cross referencing orphans in different institutions throughout Australia. Eliza Scholes nee Rogers had served three months for vagrancy in March 1888 and another 6 months for the same ‘crime’ in January 1889 in Toowoomba Women’s prison.
A reminder, though, searching for orphans in such institutions, as I’ve said elsewhere, ” is merely adding the bias of expectations to the bias of the evidence itself”. But it is still worth doing.
The work of family historians can act as a counterweight to this, even if they too have a bias of their own. Their concern is not with the ‘lost’ orphans. They are the survivors, and sometimes, maybe too often, view things through rose-tinted spectacles. As Noeline Kyle puts it in her very useful book, Writing Family History Made Very Easy, Allen & Unwin, 2007, in her chapter called “Nostalgia, Sentiment and Blazing Sunsets”, “we read about devoted wives, hardworking men, dear children and pious wives” (p.165). Noeline has important and valuable advice for all would-be genealogists and family historians.
My intention was to include some Port Phillip orphan stories via family reconstitutions in this post, on the occasion of this year’s Williamstown commemoration. But the post is too long already. Next time, I promise, before the ‘gathering’ occurs.
Here’s an incomplete key to the contents of my blog http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE
I hope it may be of use to the actors researching their roles for Jaki McCarrick’s play “Belfast Girls”. Break a leg!
At the bottom of each blog post after the comments there is a search box. Type in whatever you are looking for and click enter and you will find what reference there is, if any, in the whole of the blog. Thus if you enter “Ellen Leydon” you will be told she appears in posts 51, 25, 9, and 4. Happy hunting.
Skibbereen and beyond
For this post, I found myself facing something of a dilemma. How could I remind people of the conditions that sent the Famine orphans fleeing from Ireland, and at the same time, how could I draw attention to the commemoration of the Port Phillip orphans held at Williamstown in mid November, 2017? They were two separate subjects.
I decided to put the Eliza Caroline in my cross-hairs. She was the last Earl Grey orphan vessel to arrive in Port Phillip, filled with young Famine refugees from all over the country, from Tipperary, Sligo, Wexford, Carlow, Waterford, Dublin, Cork, Donegal and Kilkenny. Fittingly, she was one of two vessels carrying young women from an area that symbolizes the Great Irish Famine, the area in west Cork around Skibbereen. The other vessel was the Elgin the last orphan vessel to arrive in Adelaide. Alas, we do not know the names of those on board the Elgin who came from Skibbereen.
Many of you will be familiar with the engravings of James Mahoney and others in the London Illustrated News making its readers aware of the tragedy unfolding in Cork. This one perhaps?
or this one?
These two youngsters were scratching the ground with their bare hands looking for potatoes. Cahera is about four miles north of Skibbereen on the road to Dunmanway.
Clonakilty is about twenty miles to the west of Skibbereeen.
Skibbereen has passed into Irish folklore, and into the identity of the ‘Rebel’ county. Try typing the town’s name into your browser and see what you come up with. Here’s a couple of results to sample
Of course it wasn’t only Mahoney’s engravings that made an impact on middle-class sensibilities. It was the accompanying articles as well. Along with the pictures that appeared in February 1847, in the middle of that terrible winter, came the report, “Neither pen nor pencil could ever portray the misery and horror, at this moment, to be witnessed in Skibbereen”.
The reporter quoted from the diary of the resident medical officer, Dr Donovan, describing the Barrett family who had ‘literally entombed themselves in a small watch-house‘ in the cemetery in Skibbereen. “By the side of a hut is a long newly made grave…near the hole that serves as a doorway is the last resting place of two or three children;…in fact the hut is surrounded by a rampart of human bones…and in this horrible den, in the midst of a mass of human putrefaction, six individuals, males and females, labouring under most malignant fever, were huddled together, as closely as were the dead in the graves around”.
The ‘malignant fever’ may have been brought on by any of the Famine diseases, relapsing fever, typhus and dysentery being the most common. In typhus for example, a host scratches and releases bacteria from an infected insect into their own bloodstream. The small blood vessels are attacked causing a spotted rash and delirium. Eyes become bloodshot, muscles twitch and the delirium deepens to stupor. With dysentery, bacteria is transmitted by rotting food, fingers and flies, bacteria that multiply, inflame and ulcerate the intestines, bringing about painful and exhausting straining, violent diarrhoea and the passage of blood. The ground is often marked with blood. In both cases the death rate is high.
Knowing your parents were dead, Bridget Driscoll, you had even watched them become delirious, fall into a stupor and crawl into a corner to die, it’s okay to fear the worst and forever worry about what will become of you. You’d need to have the skin of Tollund man not to be concerned. So many Earl Grey orphans would be affected psychologically by their Famine experience.
Were the orphans from Skibbereen more vulnerable than other orphans because of their unique circumstances and experience? Were they more likely to become casualties in Australia? Or was the experience of other orphans, in other places, you Mary Kearney from Dingle, or you Mary Carrigge from Ennis, equally traumatic?
“I ventured through that parish [Clare Abbey] this day, to ascertain the condition of the inhabitants, and, although a man not easily moved, I confess myself unmanned by the extent and intensity of the suffering I witnessed, more especially amongst the women and little children, crowds of whom were to be seen scattered over the turnip fields, like a flock of famishing crows, devouring the raw turnips, mothers half naked, shivering in the snow and sleet, uttering exclamations of despair, whilst their children were screaming with hunger; I am a match for anything else I may meet with here, but this I cannot stand”. (Letter from Captain Wynne, District Inspector for Clare to the Chairman of the Board of Works 24 December 1846, cited in M. Kelleher, The Feminization of Famine, Cork U.P., 1997, p.27.) Clare Abbey is close to Ennis.
“About a fortnight ago a boy named John Shea of Tullaree died of starvation–such was the verdict of a jury. On yesterday week his sister died, entirely from the same cause: she lay naked and uninterred on what had been the hearth, for four days, during which time she had been gnawed by rats. On Friday evening last a brother of hers died of dysentery, brought on by hunger,and on Saturday the father also fell a victim to this desolating scourge. They had no food for many days…The door was hasped on the outside, and the famishing family abandoned by every relative”. (John Busteed, Surgeon attached to the Castlegregory dispensary, in the Kerry Evening Post, 24 February 1847, cited in Kieran Foley, “The Famine in the Dingle Peninsula”, Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, p. 401).
We haven’t heard of these so much: the contemporary media did not direct our attention there. As today, we’ve heard more about a hurricane in Puerto Rico and Florida, and little about what happened to Barbuda or Antigua or other small Caribbean islands.
Understanding the psychological baggage the orphans brought with them to Australia is not an easy task. Did some ‘friendless’ orphans become more vulnerable than others when they faced the harshness of the Australian environment?
I thought I’d look into this a bit more, first turning to the Irish Famine memorial database for the Eliza Caroline. You can find it here, http://irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/
Mary Coghlan again
And lawdy, lawdy what jumped out at me were two names I knew only well, Mary Coghlan and Mary Minahan, both from Skibbereen. I was alerted to Mary Coghlan’s history by her descendant Barbara Borland back in 1990. I’ve written about Mary before, towards the end of blog post 22 on ‘Cancelled Indentures’. You can read it here, http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf
Mary was the victim of the most shocking domestic abuse by her husband James Walton. Barbara was descended from the couple’s eldest daughter who had married a Swedish seaman. She wrote that she was “happy her great grandmother had a rewarding marriage and descendants to be proud of which makes Mary Coghlan’s life seem to be of some worth”.
Mary Minahan‘s history has been researched by her descendant, Kathleen Newman. Kathleen told me about her in 2000. A synopsis of Mary’s story appears on the Irish Famine memorial database. Only one of Mary’s eight children survived. All the others died young. Was that sad history of childbirth related to her Famine experience, i wonder? Or indeed her history of petty crime?
- Surname : Minnahan [Minahan]
- First Name : Mary
- Age on arrival : 17
- Native Place : Skibbereen, Cork
- Parents : Not recorded
- Religion : Roman Catholic
- Ship name : Eliza Caroline (Melbourne 1850
- Workhouse : Cork, Skibbereen
- Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write. Empl. John Hopkins, farmer, Mercer Vale [now Beveridge] 24 miles from Melbourne, ₤8, 6 months; convicted many times (by 1899, 32 previous convictions) for a variety of misdemeanors (assault, vagrancy, being idle and disorderly, soliciting) and under a variety of aliases (Brown, Sorento, Freck, Coutts)’ & sent to Melbourne Gaol. She had 8 children, the first by Henry Wallace, the next 4 by Charles Joseph Pruen, the last to Charles J Brown (the same man?). By 1867 only 1 child, David William Minahan, had survived. Her death not located. kathleennewman[at]optusnet.com.au
Kathleen tells us, her gaol record in 1878 described her as “5 feet 3 inches tall with a fresh complexion, red hair and hazel eyes.” By the time of her court appearance in 1894, (Richmond Guardian 24 November), she was “a wretched looking old woman…charged with having no lawful means of support”.
Maybe these were exceptional cases. To check I looked through some of my family reconstitutions which tended to be biased toward stable family histories. Here’s two I have.
Jane Leary was also from Skibbereen. She married twice, had a family of nine children but lived to the ripe old age of eighty. [Thanks to R.M. Reilley for alerting me to Jane. I’ve gone back to my original forms; that’s were i recorded names of those who sent me information. In some cases I still had access to vital statistics that allowed me to add precise dates. That precision was necessary for a demographic analysis.]
Ellen Fitzgerald, likewise from Skibbereen, also married an ‘exile’ per Maitland. Thanks to Jenny Dedman for this one. Ellen and William had all of their eleven children on the Victorian goldfields. It looked to be a stable family. But wait, how did she die? Of malnutrition! How on earth did that happen? What exactly does that mean? Did she not have enough food? Was she suffering from some kind of illness?
This prompted me to look carefully at the other Skibbereen orphans on board the Eliza Caroline. And found Catherine Coughlan, who had numerous convictions for drunkenness and vagrancy, and died in 1869. c. 36 years old: Mary Donovan married well; her husband was later a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and she too became a social activist. But she died in 1866, also c. 36 years old. Julia or Judy Driscoll died in Ballarat Hospital, aged about 39. And Mary Hicks‘ husband deserted her and their eleven children in 1866. This was not a particularly happy outcome for these West Cork orphans. Maybe there is some substance to the claim West Cork orphans were especially vulnerable, after all.
Let me continue with this in the next post. I’d advise against making up your mind about this argument just yet.
May I finish by reminding you of the Irish Famine Orphan commemoration in Williamstown on the 19th November? Thankyou Chrissy Fletcher for this.
“SAVE THE DATE
Irish Famine Orphan Girls Commemoration – Melbourne
Sunday 19 November 2017 – 3pm start
Standing Stone Famine Rock, Burgoyne Reserve, The Strand, Cnr Stevedore Street, Williamstown”.
“…She fainted in her anguish, seeing the desolation round
She never rose, but passed away from life to mortal dream
And found a quiet grave, my boy, in dear old Skibbereen”.
Some orphan stories, with photos
Catherine Fox from Armagh per Earl Grey
Here is the entry for Catherine Fox on the www.irishfaminememorial.org database. Some of the information came from her descendant Gwen Etherington in the late 1980s, some from my Barefoot, and some improvements were added by Dr Perry McIntyre.
Shipping: nursemaid, reads & writes, no relatives in colony. Armagh PLU PRONI BG2/G/2/ into workhouse 10 May 1847, aged 17 tolerably well clothed from Armagh town, out 7 Jul 1847; in 10 Jul 1847 (1203) thinly clothed, hungry, Union at Large, out 24 May 1848; empl Mr Hutchinson, Sydney, £10, 12 months; married widower Archibald Graham, Sydney in 1852; lived Dapto & Wollongong; sponsored her brother Bernard Fox from Glenmore, on ‘Commodore Perry’ 1856; she raised 6 surviving children her husbands first marriage, 12 of her own & 2 of her stepson’s children; died 1920.
The PRONI BG numbers refer to Armagh workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers.
You may notice Catherine’s husband was also from Armagh but she and Archie, who was eighteen years her senior, were of a different religion. I seem to remember Gwen telling me there was sectarian tension not just in the marriage (how were the children to be raised?) but also in Dapto and Wollongong, in the Illawarra, where the couple lived from the early 1850s. Catherine was, or became, a staunch defender of her religion against her Protestant neighbours. That Catholic-Protestant sectarian divide was certainly a feature of Australian history that is nowadays often forgotten. The country has moved on.
Ann Nelligan from Mallow per Pemberton
Ann and her younger sister, 17 year-old Eliza, were part of the Mallow (County Cork) contingent (about fifteen in all) on board the Pemberton. Eliza had been Superintendent of Work in the Union workhouse, something which worked to the sisters’ advantage when they were offered a place in the Earl Grey scheme.
Ann’s husband, John Baker, was a Parkhurst ‘exile’ from Birmingham. Together they had eight children, two boys and six girls. But Ann died relatively young at 39, of chronic nephritis.
Here is the family reconstitution form for Ann’s sister, ElizaNelligan who married Joseph Midolo a sailmaker from Sicily. He was about eighteen years older than Eliza but she too was to die relatively young at 42, like her sister, of nephritis. Nephritis is inflammation or infection of the kidneys. I doubt there was effective medical treatment for Ann and Eliza in the early 1870s. Do correct me if I’m wrong.
The names of descendants researching the family history of these two orphans have changed considerably between Barefoot volume I and those now on the database. It is testimony to how strongly their families feel connected to their Irish orphan forebears.
Eliza Geoghagen from Athlone, Westmeath per Digby
Here is another example of what is euphemistically called ‘mixed marriage’. I remember Siobhán McHugh doing excellent work on this. See http://www.mchugh.org/radio/marryingOut.html
Eliza and her husband travelled throughout New South Wales. Look where they were living when their twelve children were born; Sydney, Yass, Tumut, Steiglitz, Victoria, Wattle Flat, Sofala, Pipeclay, Tallawang, Slapdash. Imagine carrying your brood all that way in those days. Both Eliza and John are buried in Gulgong. There are some magnificent photographs of Gulgong in the photograph collections of the State Library of New South Wales.
Bridget Gaffney from Butlersbridge, Cavan, per Digby
Another example of “Not Before the Altar”.
Sometimes you will notice discrepancies in our record. One of the ones here is my failure to count properly. There are five male children not four that I noted. Even so, two more have appeared on the database. My default position nowadays is the database rather than my early work. Helen Watts supplied information about Bridget and her sister Catherine and updated it for the second volume of Barefoot. Her update would account for the discrepancy.
There is a good report on the Digby voyage in State Records of New South Wales. The reference I have is SRNSW (State Records new South Wales) Microfilm reel 2852 Reports1838-49, 4/4699. The Digby arrived in Port Jackson 4 April 1849.
Colonial authorities were adamant that the terms and conditions of their charter parties, or contract, with shipping agents were met. The early orphan vessels were particularly subject to their scrutiny. The Surgeon Superintendent of the Digby, Dr William Neville kept a ‘private log’, or secret record, which he forwarded to the Colonial Secretary upon his arrival in Sydney. The consequence was an Immigration Board of Enquiry which found against the Master of the vessel, Captain Taber
- ‘..he did against the Government Regulations defraud the Emigrants of a large portion of their rations…
- the provisions and condiments etc. were not of the quality contracted for by the Government or such as ought to have been placed on board for the Emigrants “consumption”…(the Sydney Board comprising Merewether, Savage and Browne even went so far as to sample some of the provisions themselves! If only our present day so-called regulators were as keen).
- Dr Neville further charged the Master with having “permitted the sailors to be too familiar with the female Emigrants in opposition to the authority on board and clause No 20 in the Charter Party…”
The Board recommended the ship’s officers should not receive their gratuity, and that Captain Taber should never be employed on an Emigrant ship ever again. None of which was much consolation for the orphans who had to accept what they were given every day of their 109 day voyage.
The following is from the www.irishfaminememorial.org database entry for Bridget.
- Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write, no relatives in colony; sister Catherine also on Digby; Register 10 Nov 1849 complaint; 18 Dec 1849 Sydney, transfer. Appendix J No.128. 17 May 1850 indentures with JB Wathen cancelled, disobedience and neglect of duty; married Nathaniel Lawrence at Bathurst 13 Jan 1851; 13 children; husband a labourer, shepherd and bushman, lived Wallerwaugh, Mudgee, Bathurst & Wellington area; she died 27 Nov 1899, buried Stuart Town cemetery.
Honora Shea from Callan, Kilkenny per New Liverpool
Another ‘mixed marriage’. Honora married George Walmsley within a year of her arrival at Port Phillip. George was a Wesleyan and later, Baptist. They had thirteen children, seven boys and six girls. She probably travelled with her older sister Bridget but as neither could read or write they may have parted ways once they were married. Chrissy Fletcher who has a Facebook page for the Port Phillip orphans has asked how many orphans married ‘exiles’. Do visit @portphillipirishorphangirls
Chrissy has created a closed group for the Port Phillip arrivals on Facebook. it is at http://PORT PHILLIP IRISH ORPHAN GIRLS
We might also ask how many orphans married former convicts; how many married older men; how many married someone of a different religion from their own; how many married Irishmen; how many married Englishmen; how many ‘married’ more than once? These are all interesting questions. Maybe you can think of others?
Rose Sherry from Carrickmacross, Monaghan per John Knox
My choice of orphan stories in this post is determined by the availability of photographs. Not everyone is lucky enough to have them.
Here is the entry for Rose on the www.irishfaminememorial.org database which will take you to her story. http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Sherry_Rose_story.pdf
- Surname : Sherry (Cherry)
- First Name : Rose
- Age on arrival : 17
- Native Place : Carrick Cross [Carrickmacross], Monaghan
- Parents : Patrick & Catherine (both dead)
- Religion : Roman Catholic
- Ship name : John Knox (Sydney Apr 1850)
- Workhouse : Monaghan, Carrickmacross
- Other : Shipping: laundress, reads only, no relatives in colony; married William Alexander Chamberlain, 29 Oct 1851, St Marys, Sydney; 11 children; died 12 Mar 1899, from injuries caused by a fall, aged 66, lived Clara Terrace, off William St., Double Bay; William, a fisherman, died 6 Nov 1902, aged 73, both buried South Head Cemetery. Margaret: margkenstephens[at]bigpond.com; Kim: k.connor92[at]hotmail.com; Pamela: p.wittingslow[at]gmail.com; Judy: ronjudyhinkley[at]bigpond.com others without email contacts
- Read Her Story
Rebecca Cambridge from Ballyreagh, Fermanagh per Diadem
Here is the entry for Rebecca on the Irish famine memorial database, from my Barefoot vol.II, p. 357. She was in the Enniskillen workhouse records. Enniskillen sent a relatively large number of orphans by the Earl Grey scheme. http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Enniskillen/
- Surname : Cambridge
- First Name : Rebecca
- Age on arrival : 17
- Native Place : Ballyrag [Ballyreagh], Fermanagh
- Parents : Not recorded
- Religion : Church of England
- Ship name : Diadem (Melbourne Jan 1850)
- Workhouse : Fermanagh, Enniskillen
- Other : shipping: house servant, reads & writes; Enniskillen PLU PRONI BG14/G/5 (841) Ballyreagh, entered workhouse 9 Apr 1849, left 3 Oct 1849. Empl. Mr George Moulds, baker, Collingwood, £8, 6 months; married Samuel J Harvey, 11 Oct 1854; 11 children; husband gold digger, labourer & woodman; lived Morang, died 25 Jun 1905, buried Yan Yean. She left 10 acres of land & cottage in Separation, valued £100 & 5 cows & furniture worth £40
As you can see, Rebecca married an Englishman, Sam Harvey who was variously, a gold miner, labourer, woodman, and owner of a small farm. Together the couple had eleven children, three boys and eight girls. Two of their girls and one of their boys died in infancy. Sam and Rebecca are buried in Yan Yean cemetery.
I am constantly uplifted by the high standard of research being done on the Irish Famine orphans, especially by family historians. See for example Aileen Trinder’s work in blog post 48 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-2
or Karen Semken’s in blog post 51 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-14R
You may wish to view another brilliant effort, about Bridget Donovan per John Knox from Middleton, county Cork. It’s author Rowena has found fascinating new material to add to her WordPress blog. I’m looking forward to reading it there.
or maybe it is here https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/
Rowena’s energy and engagement with Bridget is a delight. Who knows? She may even encourage you to set down your own orphan story in a WordPress blog.
A FEW MORE ORPHAN STORIES
One of the advantages of this blogging business is that you can lay your cards on the table however you like. Some of what I’ve done already is all of a jumble, set down and put out as I came across material in my filing cabinets. The beauty of it is, nothing is set in stone. My intention is to revisit some of my more substantive posts when I get the chance. Post 16 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-h8 looks as though it could do with some reworking, for example.
In the meanwhile, here are a couple more stories I hope you will like. South Australian Irish Famine orphans are relatively neglected. It may be because there weren’t so many of them or maybe they are just hard to trace. Let me suggest some avenues of research which I hope may have wider application. I’m just casting a net and hoping when I drag it to shore I’ll have an interesting catch.
Mary Taafe from Dublin per Inconstant to Adelaide
Mary was to live a long life with her convict husband, Samuel Dunn from Nottingham. After marrying, the couple moved quickly to Victoria where Mary was to give birth to fourteen children, nine boys and five girls, three of them dying in infancy or childhood. She herself lived till she was ninety.
It must have been Dawn Barbary who sent me this. Thankyou Dawn. Dawn supplied the names of her and Samuel’s childrens’ spouses, Hanns Wanned, Niels Jorgens, Nellie Plunkett, W. Renison, Tom Lucas, and Maud Tr…. Maybe their descendants have yet to discover they have an Irish Famine orphan in their family.
Our starting point, as always, must be the Irish Famine Memorial database for it has the most up to date information. There in synopsis is what is known about Mary. I wonder if Eliza was Mary’s older sister. That would mean she had a younger sister called Ellen and a mother called Mary. What kind of proof would we need for that?
I remember working with those North and South Dublin workhouse Registers in 1987. They were large, heavy registers closely packed with names which were sometimes difficult to read. Nowadays you can gain access to these Dublin registers online if you subscribe to findmypast.ie
In the North Dublin Register (National Archives of Ireland [NAI] BG 78/G/6 number 30984) Mary was described as being ‘in good health‘ and from Jervis Street in the city. Jervis Street runs directly north from the Ha’penny Bridge, not far from the city centre. Not that Mary would recognise it today. In Mary’s case, the Workhouse Register explicitly states, “sent to Australia“, as indeed it did for some others, Bridget Fay (28228), Eliza Harricks (29777), Mary Ann Newman (BG78/G/5 No.20650) and in G4, no.14640, Rebecca Thompson. Mostly, however, one has to use the method I described in blog post number five, http://wp.me/p4SlVj-4X See about a third of the way down under “Identifying the female orphans”.
The next step is to Peter Higginbotham’s brilliant work on workhouses to find out more about the workhouse Mary was in. See http://workhouses.org.uk/DublinNorth/
That is one excellent website, worth the many hours I’ve spent exploring it.
Casting the net a second time, I dragged ashore an article by Flinders University academic, Mark Staniforth, that treats the orphans who came to Adelaide on the Inconstant. Do have a look for yourself
Dr Staniforth also offers information about individual orphans, some of it originating with family historians. Mary Taafe is one such, where the claim is made that Eliza was indeed her sister. But no proof of that is offered there. I believe it is important to always ask, how do you know that, what evidence do you have, and how reliable is your evidence? Is your claim based on hard fact or have you taken imaginative license or a leap of faith? Just so long as you state clearly what the position is.
Catherine Bracken from Parsonstown
And to emphasise how treacherous this ‘telling orphan stories’ can be, compare Dr Staniforth’s brief biography of Catherine Bracken with Karen Semken’s that appears on the Irish Famine memorial website at http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Catherine_Bracken_Inconstant.pdf These two accounts show us how easy it is to become ensnared in the tangled webs we weave.
One is a straightforward account of Catherine from Parsonstown (Birr) workhouse marrying William Robinson at Mount Barker in 1851, their having at least three children, and Catherine dying aged 52 in the Clare Valley. (Staniforth, p. 37, after the endnotes).
The other is a thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated tale of ‘murder and mayhem’. Catherine’s first husband had his throat slit in 1856, and her second was executed in 1862 for the murder of their servant Jane McNanamin at Salt Creek. Catherine married yet again, for a third time, to George Ingham in 1871. According to Karen, she died in 1915 and is buried in West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide. Karen mentions that one of Catherine’s descendants Dawn Ralfe was writing a book about Catherine. Does anyone have any news about this?
I see Dawne Ralfe has published her book. It’s called Murders and Mayhem: the true secrets, Inspiring publishers, 2014.
Karen has a facebook page devoted to the orphans. There are some great photographs there. https://www.facebook.com/EarlGreyIrishOrphans/ On the 5th April 2015 for example, she posted a pic of Matthew Moorhouse’s residence, next door to the Native School that acted as an Immigration Depot for the orphans. The same pic appears in her account of Catherine’s history at page three of the link above.
Karen’s revision of Catherine Bracken’s history raises a larger, interesting question: how many of the orphans had a criminal history in Australia, however minor their crimes or misdemeanours might have been? Those that did were found guilty of minor crimes, being drunk and disorderly, obscene language, petty theft, or ‘vagrancy’, a charge which the police often used instead of ‘prostitution’.
Margaret Dehee (or Duhy)
Dr Staniforth also draws our attention to a South Australian government report that lists sixteen Inconstant orphans who were prostitutes, including Margaret Dehee (various spellings) from Donohill in Tipperary. Dr Staniforth argues convincingly her surname was Duhy.
The information on this next family reconstitution form was from an excellent genealogist, Wendy Baker, sent to me in 1986. I hope Wendy is still with us. Margaret Dea(n)(e)/Duhy had five female children by her first husband Robert Strickland and another, Lucy, by her second, Charles Lindrea. Like Mary Taafe she left South Australia and sought her fortune in Victoria.
The Government report Dr Staniforth refers to can be found in British Parliamentary Papers. I’ve used the hard copy 1,000 volume Irish University press edition.
On the second of November, 1850, Governor Sir H.E. F. Young wrote to Earl Grey,
I have the honour of forwarding a report by the Children’s apprenticeship Board, on 621 female orphans introduced into the colony during the last two years.
2. Thirty two cases of crime or misconduct were brought before the police magistrate; six are mothers of illegitimate children, and required relief as destitute persons at their lying-in.
Six more are living in the country in adultery.
Forty three have fallen into the condition of common prostitutes; although all had been placed by the Board in respectable situations…”.
(In all, less than fifteen percent of orphans, my comment).
Sixty-six circulars had been sent to Police Magistrates throughout the colony asking about ‘the conduct and respectability’ of the orphans in their district. Only thirty Magistrates had replied. (British Parliamentary Papers, Irish Universities Press edition, Colonies Australia, vol.13, Sessions 1851-52, Papers relative to Emigration, p.292). [I only wish our own present-day pollsters explained to us the methods they use, and on what their results are based].
I wonder if asking how many of the orphans were incarcerated in Melbourne Women’s prison or in Darlinghurst gaol, or in Yarra Bend mental hospital, or Wollston Park, in Liverpool Lying-in hospital, or Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, or any similar institution, is the question I want to ask. A minority of the orphans (and how substantial a minority is moot) i believe were bound to spend part of their life in such institutions.
More than twenty years ago I asked, retouching what I said just a bit, ‘did Irish immigrants (to Australia) agree with other immigrants on …”the big issues”? Did they accept ‘capitalism and the modernizing, anglophone, world’ (D. Akenson), or were the casualties among them those would not or could not adapt to this new world? … And among those Irish immigrants were ‘friendless’, single, Irish Famine orphans the most vulnerable of all because of their ethnicity, because of their sex, because of their class, because of their lack of independence, because of their lack of kin support, and because of their dependence on males? The questions are easier to pose than to answer’.
Some have even suggested the trauma of the Famine made the Irish more susceptible to mental illness. I remain unconvinced. As I’ve said elsewhere, to suggest our orphans were transmitters of some workhouse dumping ground mentality, or biologically prone to some sort of “Celtic Melancholy”, or psychologically predisposed to mental illness, ‘borders on bigotry'(Akenson?).
Unlike most assisted Irish immigrants, the Earl Grey orphans were not part of a safety network. They did not have a network of ‘friends’,– friends in the usual sense of people from the same village or locality with whom they had a close, long-established relationship, and friends in the Irish sense of family members, once, twice and even thrice removed–friends they could turn to in times of need. They did not have a complex safety-net, woven with threads of kinship. That is what made them vulnerable to alienation in their new Australian world.
The question we may prefer to ask is what stratagems did the orphans use to deal with whatever life threw at them? What legal rights did they have? When they were young, did they get married in order to escape a burdensome master-servant contract? And if their husband was legally allowed to beat them with a stick, how did they withstand domestic abuse? Did they adopt the drinking habits of their husband? Fit in, or flee? Ellen Leydon from Ennistymon in County Clare who arrived by the Thomas Arbuthnot, ‘married’ six times, using(?) males as her ‘shelter’, her way of coping. See her story towards the bottom of http://wp.me/p4SlVj-dQ And when old, if your husband has died and you do not meet the requirements for entry to a Benevolent Asylum, do you deny your children, say you have lost touch with them, say you have no money, and no means of support. Then you will meet requirements. Do as needs must. Did the orphans contest the historical role colonial society imposed upon them? Did they negotiate a place for themselves? Or is that being too optimistic?
(I’ve just started reading Garry Disher’s Her. That will cure any desire to return to the ‘good old days’).
May I ask if anyone knows a good general history of women in Australia that would help answer the questions asked in the last part of this blog? Which historians can we turn to? Shurlee Swain? Christine Twomey? Tanya Evans? Diane Kirkby? All suggestions gratefully received.
For those who didn’t get to hear Dr Kildea’s oration at Hyde Park Barracks on the 27th August 2017, Tinteán have kindly put it online at https://tintean.org.au/2017/09/06/only-nineteen/
Thank you Jeff for a brilliant, poignant speech.
SOME MORE BRIEF HISTORIES
A reader recently mentioned how much she liked reading stories about the orphans. So you will forgive me, i hope, if i add some more. These are based on my ‘family reconstitutions’ some of which appear elsewhere in my blog. But this time I’ve added a little gloss.
May I suggest these orphan stories illustrate the many textures and hues of the female condition in colonial Australia? Some of the orphans were lucky in marriage, some not so. Most of them had agency of some kind, even if often limited by historical circumstance, and societal norms and constraints.
Let me begin with two from the notorious Earl Grey, the first vessel to arrive, carrying the “Belfast Girls”. I’ll refer to a couple more towards the end.
ELLEN PARKS from Belfast
Ellen Parks married twenty-five year old, London born, George Clarke, in May 1850, less than two years after she arrived. George proved to be a successful restaurant keeper, dealer and fish-monger whose estate was valued at £3500 when he died. Ellen predeceased him by six years. The couple lost two of their children at an early age. But Ellen was assured her other children would be well looked after. In his will, George spread gifts of glassware, furniture, jewelry, books, and fine engravings among them; to James, a large diamond ring, to Christina, a gold locket and chain in a box, to George(?), a gold hunting watch with Albert and locket attached, to Lillian, a ladies gold watch with Albert and Pendant gold chain with cross attached, to Anna Lloyd, a gold miniature brooch with Emu and Kangaroo on a wreath, to Alice, a gold brooch and earrings containing topaz, to Ellen Sewell, a cluster diamond ring, and to Frank Fowler a number of books and engravings. It is always worth checking probate records, is it not?
A different fate awaited her shipmate, JANE HOGAN from Ballymena.
She married a former convict, Francis Hanley, a good bit older than herself, scarcely six months after arriving. But she was to die in childbirth in 1860 when she was twenty-eight years old.
FROM MALLOW, COUNTY CORK to PORT PHILLIP
MARY BARROW per Pemberton
Mary Barrow is not so well-known as her older sister, Ann. Ann married a former convict, Samuel Phillips. The photo is of Ann and her husband Samuel on shopfronts in front of cab stables, Sydney Road, Brunswick, unfortunately now demolished. Their son David was to become Mayor of Brunswick.
And among their illustrious descendants was their grandchild, Sir Ronald East CBE MCE FICE FRHSV. Try typing his name into a search engine. My informant for the entry in Barefoot vol 2, p. 320, told me the family now embraces twenty-two different nationalities. It is very much part of multicultural Australia.
It is fitting we also acknowledge Ann’s sister, the young fourteen year old Mary Barrow who arrived by the Pemberton in May 1849.
Mary was to marry a Cork man, Michael Doherty, and together they went searching for gold. The couple travelled west, living in Raglan, Charlton, Avoca and Ararat. Both of them are buried in Ballarat New Cemetery. One can only hope the two families remained in touch with one another. Is there any evidence for this, does anyone know?
DORINDA SALTRY FROM SLIGO per Lady Kennaway
I must admit my choice of family reconstitutions is pretty much a random choice. But I notice I am influenced by my knowing some people who may be interested, such as Terry, Barbara, Kay, Anne-Marie, and Chrissy.
Dorinda Saltry from Sligo married an ‘exile’ Lemuel Bryanton from Suffolk. Lemuel was in Pentonville prison as a horse thief before being sent to Australia. He evidently used his skill with horses later in life for he was a groom and a horse cab owner in Melbourne when all of his nine children were born. Note that William Lonsdale, a member of the Melbourne Orphan committee, was required to give his approval to the marriage of the young couple in 1850. Four of their children, including two named after their mother, died at a young age. Orphans’ children dying relatively young surely affected their attitudes to death. Maybe it was a common enough occurrence throughout colonial Australia. Giving birth every two or three years was a common experience for women too.
The couple do not seem to have travelled far. Bowondara or Boroondara cemetery is in Kew, Melbourne.
ELLEN CURRAN from Enniscorthy per New Liverpool
Here’s one who did travel– as far as Casterton in Glenelg Shire near the South Australian border. Ellen Curran married an Englishman nearly twelve years her senior. But he outlived her. Most of their children inherited their longevity. Ellen’s father, step-mother and half-sister came to Australia in c. 1851. Her ancestor who provided this information has supplied the married names of their children. Note there are few Irish sounding names among them. Like many an orphan, Ellen’s children were absorbed into the larger, dominant, dare I say, Anglo-Australian culture.
Ellen was a Wexford orphan most of whom came to Australia on board the New Liverpool. A similar number of their Wexford workhouse “sisters” disembarked at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
One more to Port Phillip,
CATHY CULBERT from Tuam per Lady Kennaway
Port Phillip, and what was soon to become the colony of Victoria, attracted people from all over the world at the time of the 1850s gold rush. Cathy Culbert, originally from Tuam in County Galway, married William Swain, or Swane, from Flores in Portugal on the first of January 1850, both residing at Sugar Loaf Creek north of Kilmore. William was there before the rush for gold began. I wonder what his history is. Together Cathy and William had ten children, six boys and four girls. At some stage they moved north of Ballarat to Maryborough which is where Cathy was buried in 1899.
Some more who lived in Queensland,
CATHY DURKIN from Ballyglen, Mayo per Panama
Maybe Barbara or Terry can tell me where exactly Ballyglen is in County Mayo. I suspect it is somewhere between Killala and Ballycastle in the north of the county. Times must have been really hard in these beautiful western districts of Ireland during the Famine.
Cathy was lucky. She had relatives in the colony, a cousin Catherine White, who lived in the Moreton Bay district. A few months after arriving in Sydney she went with a party of another twenty-two orphans to Moreton Bay! Either the Sydney Immigration Agent was most accommodating or Cathy herself managed to take advantage of her circumstances. A few years later she married Henry Wakefield from Oxford with whom she spent the rest of her hard working life, in Brisbane, giving birth to ten children.
CATHY KENNEDY from Kerry per Thomas Arbuthnot
This one will be of interest to Kay Caball, author of The Kerry Girls. Her book is essential reading for anyone with a Kerry orphan in their family. I’d recommend it to everyone with an interest in the Irish Famine orphans. Kay tells us that Cathy gave her place of origin to the Dingle workhouse Board of Guardians as Brandon Bay, which is in the Gaeltacht in the north of the Dingle peninsula. There is always room for error in our official records, and interestingly here we have strong evidence that the first language for some of the orphans was Irish. Like Cathy Durkin above, or the young Moriarty sisters from Kerry, Cathy Kennedy may have had Irish as their first language.
Perhaps Irish was the first language for many orphans from the West of Ireland? Or perhaps my East-West fault line is too crude? 1851 Census records identify the areas with the largest number of Irish only speakers, Galway, Kerry, Clare, Cork, Mayo, Waterford, Donegal, for example. Like Cathy Durkin above, from Mayo, or the young Moriarty sisters from Kerry, Cathy Kennedy was probably at least bilingual.
But as Máiréad Nic Craith reminds us in her brilliant chapter in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, ” Legacy and Loss: the Great Silence and its aftermath”, (p.583), the 1851 census probably underestimates the number of Irish speakers in the country at the time.
The language question is a fascinating subject is it not? Other questions about attitudes to death, posed earlier, or about the ways geography impinges on an orphan’s life–Kay Caball reminds us that Cathy Kennedy and her parents walked miles across difficult mountainous terrain to get to the Dingle workhouse–or in Queensland, Mary Moriarty from Dingle, restlessly moving with her husband, Samuel Brassington, from Brisbane to Ipswich to Dalby, Condamine, Moraby, Roma, Mitchell up the Maranoa River, across the mountains to the Warrego River and finally reaching Augathella in 1864, would be very much aware of how the natural environment impacted on her life–these sort of subjects can bring us to a closer understanding of an orphan’s life both in Ireland and Australia. We shouldn’t be afraid to cast our net as wide as we can.
I intended including the young Moriarty sisters in this post. Maybe another time. Let me finish, as promised, with two more of the orphans Surgeon Douglass banished to the Moreton Bay district.
ELIZA FRAZER and VIOLET LACKIE per Earl Grey
One of Eliza‘s descendants figures prominently in Siobhan McHugh’s Radio National podcast which you can download and listen to at http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/the-famine-girls/4857904
Violet Lackie reminded me of young James Porter’s disparaging account of the orphans who went to Brisbane by the steamer Eagle,
“Within forty eight hours they had all been married and they could be seen all over the town trecked out in the gaudiest finery that could be procured in the few drapers shops then in Brisbane. Of course the men from up country represented themselves or were understood by the girls to be squatters and when their cheques were spent the difficulty was to get their wives out of town. They had been spoilt by the few days carouse and did not care to face the discomforts of a bullock drivers camp. One girl positively refused to move but her husband by main force got her to the camp pad locked a bullock chain round her waist and fastened it to the tail of the dray. Eighteen months afterwards I got to the Merro diggings I reconnised her living under the protection of a man other than hr husband, keeping a sly grog shop”. (cited in Barefoot…, vol.2, p.112).
Evidently it was not Violet. She remained with her native born husband, George Fitzpatrick, all her life.
I knew these two appeared in court records not long after they’d married and hoped I could find out more using the digitized newspapers in http://trove.nla.gov.au/
Eliza had rushed to the rescue of a young servant working next door, in Humby’s the bootmakers in Brisbane. Fourteen year old Mary Maddocks was being sexually assaulted by a Mount Elphinstone ‘exile’. The culprit was sentenced to seven years imprisonment (Brisbane Court of Petty Sessions (QSA Z2833 31 July 1850).
I had a little trouble with trove and had to login to my account before I had any success.
Thanks to Denise Murphy (see comments below) I found this on the Mary Maddocks case http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3714778?searchTerm=Mary%20MAddock&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland|||l-title=14
and did find a brief reference to a fight Eliza and Violet had in late 1849. See the Moreton Bay Courier, 10 November 1849 column 3. Eliza was fined 5 shillings, and ordered to pay ten shillings costs.
There was little more using ‘Violet Fitzpatrick’ as my search term. But there were rich pickings using ‘Edward Dwyer’ and ‘Eliza Dwyer’.
Edward appeared before the Brisbane Petty Sessions court on charges of drunkenness. See for example, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3718161?searchTerm=Edward%20Dwyer&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland|||l-title=14
I cannot sing the praises of Trove enough. It is a great research tool. Create an account for yourself, persist with it. You will be rewarded many times over.
Just a quick reminder of the gathering at Hyde Park Barracks this coming Sunday 27 August. You will be made very welcome. See https://www.facebook.com/GreatIrishFamineMemorial/
Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad,
tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Chais ná a teaghlach,
is ní bainfear a cling go bráth;
an áit úd ina gcónaíodh an deighbhean
a fuair gradam is meidhir thar mná,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraing thar toinn ann,
is an tAifreann binn á rá.
Noli timere (Seamus Heaney)
THREE, OR MAYBE FOUR, MORE FOR QUEENSLAND
This post needs your help. Are these families, orphan families? What do you think? Like some other orphans who went to Queensland, they did quite well for themselves. Readers, i hope, appreciate how much the reconstruction of the orphans’ lives, both in Australia and Ireland, is a cooperative effort. These examples draw attention to some of the pitfalls involved.
I had hoped to include details about Margaret Hardgrave nee Blair per Earl Grey. But I seem to have lost the documentation that would confirm this particular individual was an Irish Famine orphan. My entry for her in Barefoot, and on the website, was that she was a sixteen year old Presbyterian from Ballymena, County Antrim who married a shoemaker, John Hardgrave in Brisbane, 29 July 1850. She died 1 August 1924 at the age of 92! I suppose that is possible. If this is correct, Margaret was one of the most materially better off orphans. Her husband’s estate was valued at £9450 at the beginning of the twentieth century, much of it suburban real estate in the West End of Brisbane. When she died at home in Petrie Terrace, the “Hardgrave Estate” was “situated on a fine rise of land, with a 260 foot frontage to the tramline at West End” and “comprises three substantial residences and two splendid building sites”.
Here is an extract from John’s will and codicil, ‘signed sealed and delivered by Margaret Lydia Hardgrave in 1908’. Could someone please put my mind at rest; was she an Earl Grey Orphan? This Margaret Hardgrave was born in Antrim too. She spent one year in New South Wales and seventy-five in Queensland, at the time of her death. Her estate was valued at £2107.05.07.
Here is another example that needs verifying, Bridget Muldoon per John Knox.
Kerryn Townsend wrote to me from Ipswich in January 1994 but her letter and its enclosures did not come to me until much later. How I managed to neglect her interesting carefully researched material I just do not know. She even offered to send me a photograph of Bridget and her husband, an offer I obviously failed to take up. Is this one an Earl Grey orphan? Her death certificate says she was born in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh but the John Knox shipping list has her as coming from Drumkilla townland in County Cavan. The two are not so far from one another. Bridget was 91 when she died, but again that is not impossible. Kerryn was convinced she was an Irish orphan. Here is what she told me.
Bridget’s husband, native born John Ingram had an Aboriginal mother called Maria. John was described as Aboriginal when he was baptised as a twenty year old in West Maitland, 15 October 1851. The couple had sixteen children, ten sons and six daughters (one not on the form below) three of them lost at a very young age.
Like many of the orphans, Bridget and her family were geographically mobile. You may wish to use google earth to follow in their footsteps. They gradually moved north from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales via Myall Creek where John their third child was born, to St Clair, Falbrook, still in New South Wales, where Mary Anne was born. About 1863, Bridget and John and their six children moved to the Maryborough District of Queensland where they were to stay for the next fifteen years. Then about 1878, taking the younger children with them, they moved to Yeulba in the fertile Western Darling Downs where they were to remain for the rest of their lives. John died in 1892 and Bridget in 1925, aged 91 or 92, another long-lived orphan!
Kerryn , are you out there somewhere? Did you confirm the names of Bridget Ingram’s parents were Patrick and Betty? What do readers think? Is this an Earl Grey orphan? Thankyou for replying Kerryn. Please see Kerryn’s comment at the bottom of this post.
Here’s an illustration of how little time some of the orphans actually spent in an Irish Workhouse. Note that less than twenty percent of inmates gave “Union at Large” as their place of residence. Bridget was very specific about her place of residence.
These next two I’m fairly certain are Earl Grey orphans.
CHRISTIANA WYNNE per Digby
Among my family reconstitution forms I found another well-written letter from D. R. Mercer in Clayfield, Brisbane, dated 19 September 1988. It concerned a young nineteen year old Dubliner, Christiana Wynne. The letter writer supplied me with information I entered alongside Christiana’s name in the first volume of Barefoot (p.48). Alas, there was no response to my request to enter their name in the second volume of Barefoot, ten years later. Christiana may have travelled to Brisbane on the Eagle on that infamous voyage described by cuddy-boy James Porter (John Oxley Library Manuscripts Mss OM 68-18). She already had something of a reputation for in June 1849 she charged her master with assault. See case number 11 in the list of cancelled indentures at the Sydney Water Police Court http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf
But she married well, to William Darling in Brisbane, 20 May 1850. William was a canny Scot originally from Fifeshire. The family owned a farm on the banks of the Brisbane River, possibly employing Kanak labour. When she died in 1892 she left an estate valued at £3313.00. Here is part of her will which shows the names of some of her children and how careful she was with her money.
Note the names of some of her married daughters, Margaret McGuire, Christiana McWhiney, Annie Tandevine(?), Cecilia Hockings, and Jessie Mercer.
CATHERINE MADDEN per Tippoo Saib
Information about Catherine Madden also came to me through correspondence with one of her descendants, in May 1991. Unfortunately I only have her first name, Jacqui. She was living in Windsor, Brisbane at the time.
My Barefoot had Catherine as a sixteen year old from Glascoreen (Glasscarn townland?) County Westmeath. Jacqui told me she was born and baptised in Mullingar in February 1834, the daughter of James Madden and Catherine McLoughlin. I wonder if we can confirm this on the National Library Of Ireland website ? There is a great collection of parish records for Mullingar: whoa, there she is http://registers.nli.ie/registers/vtls000639815#page/59/mode/1up
Catherine, first employed in Sydney by a Captain Gilbert, had her indentures cancelled at the WPO (Water Police Office Court) for absconding. See number 238, 14 March 1851 in the tables in this blog post https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-22/
According to Immigration Correspondence in the State Records of NSW, she was sent to Moreton Bay, 2 September 1851.
Two years later she married native born James O’Donnell in Ipswich (23 September 1853). James, son of a convict, worked on a property called Rosenthal near Warwick. It was there that most of their twelve children were born. Jacqui’s research showed there was often a gap of several months between the children’s date of birth and their baptism. Later in life Catherine bought land, and was licensee of a hotel in Warwick called Rose Inn. In her will she is described as a Boarding House keeper. Perhaps this is how she managed after her husband died? Catherine herself died 4 April 1898 of ‘Dengue fever, Cerebral Haemorrhage and convulsions’. Her son, twenty two year old, George, the sole beneficiary of her will, was the informant. He thought his mother was only 56.
I’ll stop here for now.
“Let us go then you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;” (T.S Eliot)
MORE ORPHANS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN AUSTRALIA
Present day celebrations commemorating the coming of the Irish Famine orphans to Australia occur each year at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney on the last Sunday of August, and at Burgoyne Park in Williamstown usually on the third Sunday in November. (We’ll need to check this closer to time). Maybe someone would be kind enough to tell me if there are any such ‘gatherings’ elsewhere, Adelaide or Perth perhaps?
PORT PHILLIP ARRIVALS
Here are some more potted demographic histories of Port Phillip arrivals. Since the pertinent Victorian shipping lists do not provide parents’ names, it is sometimes hard to believe, Yes! I’ve found an Irish Famine orphan. These ones I’m pretty certain about. But do tell me if I’m wrong. You may wish to tell readers how you established your link to one of the orphans. Please feel free to share.
Cathy Tyrell, from Donegal, per Lady Kennaway, married a young man from Bedford, England in 1854 , five and a half years after she disembarked. She was only sixteen when she arrived. She and her husband lived in North Melbourne and together had seven children, three girls and four boys, one of whom died in infancy.
Bridget Watson (or was it Watt?) per New Liverpool was also only sixteen when she arrived from Kilkenny. As with other orphans, she was sent by the Raven to Portland where she married her first husband, a Scot, James Gibson, in early 1851. Together they had twelve children in Portland. Her first four daughters died at birth. Bridget was only forty when James died. He left her an estate worth £209, containing a bush hut and land of “very inferior quality”. Bridget married her second husband John McPhee in 1878, not mentioned on the form below. She died in 1907 and is buried in Footscray.
Mary Saltry per Lady Kennaway may have travelled with one of her sisters from Sligo, a younger sister called Sarah who died in Melbourne in 1850 only seventeen years of age. Mary married a market gardener of East Brighton, Joseph Thorne, originally from Middlesex, with whom she had seven children. She had twenty four years of widowhood.
Margaret Ward per Pemberton is recorded on the shipping list as a fifteen year old from Tipperary but you will notice below that her descendant says she was from Mallow in Cork. Is there a controversy here? Do we have the correct Margaret Ward? She married William Smedley a former convict from Derbyshire with whom she had sixteen children, all of them born in Kilmore, one of the places in Victoria where many Irish settled. Below is a photograph of Margaret and William at their diamond wedding anniversary in April 1910. Thanks to Louris Loughland who provided the photo.
The last Port Phillip arrival for now, Catherine Perkison also travelled on board the Pemberton. She was to marry an Englishman, Joseph Nixon, at St Francis’s in Melbourne and went off to search for gold. Joseph a former mariner became a miner in Ballarat and lately a saw sharpener or grinder. He died in 1876 of chronic lead poisoning.
SOME PORT JACKSON ARRIVALS
Ellen Wade came on the last orphan ship to arrive in Sydney, the Tippoo Saib. She married an Englishman of a different religion from herself. She had seven boys and four girls. Her husband was a stockman in New England. She is buried in Ben Lomond. I was able to add some precise dates for the birth of their children.
Ellen Tighe per Panama from Creagh, Kilkenny married six months after her arrival. She married an Englishman by the name of Smith but such is the detail of New South Wales Board of Immigration shipping lists, and so good are the birth, death and marriage records, what became of her is not difficult to find. Ellen gave birth to ten children, five boys and five girls. Her husband Arthur worked as a labourer in St Leonard’s, Sydney before the family moved to the Shoalhaven district south of Sydney. Arthur described himself as settler, then overseer and finally farmer when registering the birth of his children.
Sixteen year-old Mary Shanahan per Lismoyne came from Adare in Limerick. Her mother was still alive and living in Rathkeale. When she arrived she went to John Byrne, her uncle at Lachlan river. In Bathurst, five months later, she married Patrick Neville, himself a Limerick man, older than Mary, and now a farmer of Fish River. Together they had twelve children, nine girls and three boys. Three died of diptheria before they reached the age of nine. Mary sponsored her mother and sister to come to Australia in 1856. (We should check that they did come). After her husband died, she remarried to Michael Cashman. She died in 1909 and is buried in Bathurst.
There is a record of young Teresa Rourke, who arrived by the Digby, in South Dublin workhouse. When she was just ten years old, she came into the workhouse in September 1844 for eight months. Her dad had died and her mum had deserted her. She entered the workhouse again when she was twelve, in October 1847, wearing workhouse clothes when she arrived. She was to marry Henry Quinn in Bathurst in 1853. Together they had twelve children, nine girls and three boys. Henry was a farmer of Rockley, near Bathurst. Teresa predeceased him by eleven years, dying of pythisis , better known as tuberculosis.
(See Patrick Neville’s ’cause of death’ above).
Mary Ann Reilly per Lismoyne was also from Dublin. She had her indentures cancelled in 1850 in the Water Police Office court. See number 120 in the tables of cancelled indentures in blog post 21. http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf In 1854 she married Thomas Caton in East Maitland. Thomas was a former convict, horse breaker and gold-digger. They lived in Dugworth, Sugarloaf, Boonoo Boonoo, Tenterfield and Timbarra. Thomas was to die in the Gladesville Hospital for the Insane in 1883. I wasn’t able to find a death record for Maryanne.
Bridget Quigley arrived on the Tippoo Saib when she was only sixteen. There’s a brilliant family history on the www.irishfaminememorial.org
website written by one of her descendants, Aileen Trinder, revising much of what appeared in my Barefoot, and fleshing it out in a way that others may wish to emulate. Aileen has done lots of great work for family historians. You can read it at http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Bridget_Quigleys_life_in_NSW_24_Nov_2012.pdf
Here’s my family reconstitution form…do have a look at the riches Aileen has added in her story above.
Some Moreton Bay Orphans
Obviously Dublin orphans did not have the same experience of the Famine as those from Ennistymon in Clare or Dingle in Kerry. But their destitution was no less real. Cathy Geary would have been aware of this from the stories told her by her shipmates from Galway and Clare and Kerry on board the Thomas Arbuthnot. Cathy was a factory girl living in Grange Gorman Lane in Dublin, close to the women’s prison, when she entered the North Dublin Workhouse, 1 February 1849. She left 30 October 1849 to join the others at Plymouth before embarking. Sent to Moreton Bay in 1850 she married Joseph Russell from Nottingham. Researchers at Queensland BDM records told me they found only four children for the couple. Both Cathy and Joseph are buried at Pine Mountain.
Jane Kirkwood was literally one of the “Belfast Girls” sent to Moreton Bay. Her husband Harry Skinner from Kent had also came to Australia on board the Earl Grey when it was a vessel transporting convicts, in 1838. They had seven children, four boys and three girls, two of them dying young, when they lived at Kangaroo Point,Tweed River, Brisbane and Ipswich. Harry died in 1862, and Jane remained a widow for nigh on forty six years! She is buried in the Presbyterian section of Toowong cemetery.
Bridget Cannon per Lady Peel from Carrick on Shannon in Leitrim, like Maryanne Reilly above, had her indentures cancelled at the Water Police Office see number 41 at
Bridget, like other Moreton Bay orphans, knew her legal rights. She took her husband to court for threatening her and her son with a pitchfork and won her case. He was fined and bound over to keep the peace. See http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3533256?searchTerm=Bridget%20Smith&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland
It was not Bridget’s first appearance in court. See the Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald…& November 1882 p.3. See http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/123274282?searchTerm=Bridget%20Smith&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland
The digitised newspapers at Trove are a national treasure.
When her husband died in 1896 he left an estate valued at under £621.
Mary Creagh or Crae per Tippoo Saib from Listowel in County Kerry. (See Kay Caball’s lovely book The Kerry Girls which you can buy on Kindle). Mary married Thomas Taylor in Brisbane in May 1851. Her husband from Tyrone was a sawyer and they lived in Fortitude Valley and Moggill Creek. Their first three children died in infancy. Were they difficult births related to Mary’s Famine experience? They had five more children,two girls and three boys.
Mary Carrigg per Thomas Arbuthnot came from Ennis in County Clare. She married James Winn from Cornwall in 1851 in an Anglican church in Brisbane. They had nine children together before Mary died at a relatively young age. She is buried in the Bible Christain section of Toowong cemetery.
That’s enough for now. Just a reminder of the ‘gathering’ at Hyde Park Barracks on the 27th August. see http://www.irishfaminememorial.org
More Family Reconstitutions
Just wetting a line…I hope i haven’t put these up before. The first ones are Earl Grey orphans’ families in Australia, that is, from the first vessel that carried the infamous ‘Belfast Girls’.
Jaki McCarrick’s brilliant play of the same name puts the Belfast girls on board the Inchinnan. Creative artists of Jaki’s stature weave their own magic to use history how they wish. It’s a wonderful play with a great history of its own already, thrilling audiences in London, Chicago, Vancouver, and soon to appear in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Portland, Oregon. Have a read of her play if you will, maybe buy your own copy online, or order one for your library, even share with a friend.
There’s more to discover by examining the detail in these family reconstitution forms.
Some Earl Grey orphans
Elizabeth McFarlane from Cookstown had nearly twenty seven years of widowhood. She gave birth to fourteen children, five boys and nine girls. She lost one of her twins because of an ‘accidental scalding’.
Charlotte Mackay from Banbridge lost four of her children to scarlet fever.
Eliza McLaughlin/McLoughlan from Clonfeakle in Tyrone lived all her life in Sydney but she too lost three of her children in infancy.
Sarah Wiley/Wylie from Banbridge married an Irishman of different religion from herself, lived most of her life in Sydney and lost three of her children at an early age. See the left hand side of the page which gives William’s various occupations and place of residence when he registered their children’s birth.
Port Phillip Arrivals, mostly on the Diadem.
There’s a facebook page for these Melbourne arrivals organised by the descendant of Eliza Sharkey per Diadem. It’s at https://www.facebook.com/portphillipirishorphangirls/
Lily Barber from Belfast went to the gold diggings but like most in the gold rush, didn’t strike it rich. She and James had eleven children. She is buried in Ballarat New Cemetery.
Eliza Ady from Dungannon or Cookstown in Tyrone married in Melbourne and went looking for gold with her husband. Her ‘treasure’ may have been her nine children. She is buried in Stawell.
Her sister Jane had ten children. I’ve left the names of some of their spouses supplied by one of her descendants, Munroe, Patchett, Radnell, Perry, Polglase. Maybe someone will be surprised to find they have a Famine orphan in their family tree?
The last but one of the Diadem orphans for the moment is Mary McCann from Enniskillen. The form was filled out by one of her descendants. I was able to add little to this one.
Rebecca Orr from Derry married a young carpenter from Somerset in a Wesleyan chapel in Geelong not long after she arrived. Present were her Diadem shipmate Margaret Love and her husband to be, William Hargrave.
A couple more to finish. When Mary Ann McElroy’s descendant returned my form, I had already lost access to Victorian BDM records. She came on that large ship, the Pemberton. Mary lived to the ripe old age of ninety, having given birth to nineteen children.
Finally two forms returned to me by other very cluey descendants. These date from the 1980s.
A new generation of orphan descendants is discovering a link to Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans. I’ve recently learned that Mary Theresa Slattery will be represented at a memorial celebration in Kilkenny this coming November (2017) by a member of her Australian family. She’s been in touch with the author of a fascinating work on Famine Burials in Kilkenny workhouse, Dr Jonny Gerber. (See Dr Gerber’s chapter in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, eds., Crowley, Smyth and Murphy, Cork, 2012).
A reminder…the annual gathering at Hyde Park Barracks occurs on the last Sunday of August. See the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GreatIrishFamineMemorial/